Mouth Sores as a Symptom of Addiction

Mouth sores are a painful, unsightly condition that afflict many people. They are not always a symptom of addiction, and can be caused by a number of other factors. However, a number of people will experience them during their use of illicit drugs, and they can often be a signifier of an addiction.

The Types of Mouth Sores Found in Addicts

There are two major types of mouth sores that affect addicts. These are:

  • Cold Sores: Despite the name, cold sores have very little to do with the common cold. They are filled with fluid, and cause pain and irritation. Cold sores usually appear on, or around, the lips, but are also found in the mouth of those affected.

Cold sores are an effect of the herpes simplex virus. It comes in the form of HSV-1, which causes sores above the waist, and HSV-2, which causes sores below it, particularly in the genital region. Cold sores are contagious and can spread from one person to another, or, in rare cases, from one part of the body to the other.

  • Canker Sores: These are usually round, pale, and surrounded by a red inflamed area. They most commonly occur on, or around, the cheeks, tongue, or lips. They may appear individually, or in clusters.

Unlike cold sores, canker sores have not been proven to result from viral infections. Rather, there are instances known to trigger their appearance. Various people have reported canker sores as a result of cold or flu, irritants, spicy foods, cheek biting, allergic reactions, and various other incidences.

The Causes of Mouth Sores in Addicts

  • Chemical Damage: The highly corrosive nature of many drugs taken through the mouth often leads to severe damage to the gums and soft tissues in the mouth. This happens regardless of whether the drugs are in the form of liquids, solids, or vapors.
  • Pipe Burns: Drugs, such as crack cocaine and meth, are often ingested via These pipes are first heated up, and are then placed to the lips for inhalation. In cases where a user is too excited or careless, the pipe ends up burning the lips. Repeated burns will eventually create sores.
  • Contagions: Many addicts engage in unprotected sex while in the throes of their addictions. The HSV virus is often transmitted via sexual intercourse, which leads to sores, specifically cold sores, on the body of the infected person.
  • Dry mouth: Many drugs cause dehydration. The absence of saliva to neutralize acids in the mouth then leads to sores and ulcers.
  • Reduced Immunity: The continuous use of drugs will inevitably lower the defenses of the user, leaving them vulnerable to a number of oral diseases, some of which will result in mouth sores.

These, and many other factors, lead addicts to developing mouth sores. Sores are often signs of further complications, and it is advisable for addicts to seek help before things get worse.

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